• Turning Japanese in my sleep

    I moved to Amsterdam this year after seven years living in Tokyo. Having spent most of my adulthood in Asia, I’m starting to rehabilitate back to European ways. There’s one thing I can’t shake, however: a love of the floor.

  • Olympic destructionism

    The stadium is half gone. When I cycled past this morning, the cranes were already pecking at the rubble like vultures, the half-demolished stands hovering forlornly over them. Dust rising from the concrete guts. They didn’t really need to get rid of it. The stadium itself was perfectly serviceable; the gym beneath, the best-kept secret […]

  • A Constitutional Right to Consume Corn Syrup

    Just as cries of contempt are rising in New York over Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to ban the serving of oversize sugary drinks, Japanese gourmands are getting ready to say goodbye to raw beef liver after it’s prohibited in restaurants from July. Opposers of both bans have protested that they constitute an infringement of personal liberty and that […]

  • Fukushima, one year on.

    The word “irradiated” has such visceral power. We imagine our guts made luminous by Ibaraki spinach, our cells scarred by Futaba beef, our hair and teeth breaking free of their moorings due to the fallout. The invisibility of radiation polarizes reactions to it: people are either indifferent, or terrified. The former, noticing no changes in […]

  • Fukushima farmer says government got decontamination all wrong

    This article was originally published in the Asahi Shimbun. Due to a redesign of their English pages, it is no longer available (except from this snippet from the Wayback Machine).   IITATE, Fukushima Prefecture — Nobuyoshi Ito is an unlikely renegade. The 68-year-old former systems engineer spends much of his time alone, working quietly at […]

  • Decontamination: Mission Impossible

      The Japanese government’s intention to dispose of contaminated debris and topsoil from Fukushima in storage facilities in other prefectures is misguided and will not reduce health risks, according to nuclear waste disposal expert Michael Sailer, 58, who spoke at the Global Conference for a Nuclear-Free World held on Jan. 14-15 in Yokohama. “It doesn’t matter […]

  • Gnashers.

    The foreign press have recently picked up on a new ‘craze’ in Japan: cosmetic dentistry for yaeba, or, as I like to call them, fangs.

  • Was Woodford tripped up by cultural misunderstandings?

    To those who see Michael Woodford as a hero for blowing the whistle on a $1.5 billion accounting cover-up at Olympus Corp., the firm’s insistence that he was fired for failing to understand the Japanese business culture is absurd. Yet to Chris Berthelsen, a Tokyo-based consultant who has researched the experience of foreign executives in […]

  • Minami Soma.

    Meet Toyoko Suzuki. She lives right on the border of the 20km exclusion zone around the Fukushima plant:

  • The Unperturbed vs. The Doubters.

    After a couple of months of almost mainlining the news on the Fukushima nuclear crisis, I turned off. I made a conscious choice to stop reading the updates in details and to not get paranoid or worried; there’s only so much energy you can expend before you become exhausted. At that point, you have to […]